“I understand that adolescence often feels awkward — a muddy middleground between childhood and adulthood.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
My journey began as a teenager in the kitchen of a Louisiana pizzeria. I served as the unofficial therapist and translator for my Spanish-speaking coworkers. This got me curious about mental health and the societal factors contributing to our emotions. In college, I majored in sociology and grew even more excited about cultural diversity and youth development. I took a year off after graduation to find myself and, along the way, realized that conventional 9-to-5 jobs weren’t for me. The path wasn’t direct, with lots of experiences, relationships, and cultures inspiring my perspective and values. I eventually brought their influence into my practice, using the lessons learned to relate to others. Now I most enjoy helping each client do the same: forging their unique path to a fulfilling and dynamic existence.
What should someone know about working with you?
My eclectic perspective gives me the ability to relate to young adults and teens, particularly those who feel lost or struggle with self-expression and life transitions. I understand that adolescence often feels awkward — a muddy middleground between childhood and adulthood. I use a person-centered approach to help even hesitant clients recognize their strengths and values. I partner with those who may be experiencing problems with social isolation, connection, depression, and anxiety to explore how to find their dreams without losing their voice. I often bring creativity into my sessions and believe that outside-the-box thinking is instrumental in helping clients get unstuck and move forward. Group therapy is available as well.
How does collaboration with other providers inform your work?
Teens and young adults are often involved in many systems that impact their lives and that put them at special risk of losing their voice. I believe collaboration helps empower them, rather than silence them. When necessary, I work with integrated school teams and physicians. This team effort allows me to address my clients’ needs holistically and do my part to assure they are receiving full support. As a matter of routine, I collaborate with supervisors and colleagues to ensure the best course of treatment possible.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
Therapy can be terrifying. This is probably truest when you’re an adolescent who feels as though you've been shoved into an office without anyone asking your permission. It’s scary to pour out your feelings to a stranger, uncertain if they will understand. And, unfortunately, not all outcomes are good ones. But what if therapy helps? What if the appointment goes well? What if you’re finally able to open up and share? What if you're seen, heard, and validated? Teens are striving for autonomy and identity, which makes giving them choices crucial. Usually, a consultation is the best way to find out if I’d be a good fit. I can also offer parents advice on how to encourage skeptical teens to give therapy a try.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
Technology has greatly impacted the mental health landscape. Acceptance of therapy is a growing trend, especially among teens and young adults. Thanks to increased awareness and ready access to resources, discussing depression and anxiety is less taboo. Many schools even include mental health topics in their curriculum. Of course, technological advances have also made it easier to connect with youth. With texting, email, and video conferences, scheduling is easy and flexible. Adolescents often have the option of using a variety of apps to assist with tracking moods, practicing new coping skills, and challenging negative thoughts. All of this helps with healing.
“Teens are striving for autonomy and identity, which makes giving them choices crucial.”
Interested in speaking with Jennifer?